Ten or 20 years after your wedding, you may not remember what salad or first course was served at the receptions, or the exact number of guest who attended, or every variety of flowers in your bouquet. Hopefully, however, the details of your ceremony will remain vivid, as it is central to not only your wedding day, but speaks to the life you and your fiancé are planning together. You’ll want to consider your ceremony options carefully and plan according to your personal views and preferences.
You’ll need to decide whether you’ll write your own vows, use vows that are traditional to your cultural or faith traditions, or perhaps script a combination of the two. You’ll also need to consider readings and music for your ceremony. First, however, let’s consider how to go about finding a place to hold your wedding ceremony.
SELECTING THE PERFECT LOCATION
Your wedding ceremony may be held in your place of worship, on the top of a mountain, in your living room or back yard, or in the same venue as the reception. While location is crucial to some couples, other feel that it’s the ceremony itself that is critical, regardless of where it is held. If you’re not locked into a location, feel free to explore ideas for a site that suits your personalities and comfort levels, as well as you budget. Consider your guest list when choosing the location for your ceremony, however. If it’s very important to you that your grandparents attend, a mountaintop ceremony may not be practical. If the location requires extensive travel, you might lose guests who don’t have the logistical or financial ability to attend.
If you wedding will be close to home but not held in a religious setting, you have a variety of options available in the Schuylkill County and Philadelphia areas. Hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, country clubs, event facilities, outdoor locations, historical sites and halls are among your choices for your wedding ceremony.
Sites and locations can be found online, but you should start looking as early as you want to be sure to get the site you choose reserved for your wedding date. Most wedding planners recommend reserving a location for your ceremony at least 12 months prior to the wedding. When determining where to hold your ceremony, consider a space that provides ease of access relative to the reception, and in which you and your fiancé feel at home and comfortable.
Once you’ve selected a location, learn all you can about any rules, restrictions, or issues that might come into play. Some things to consider include:
CHOOSING AN OFFICIANT
If your ceremony will take place in a church, synagogue or other place of worship, it’s likely that a minister, priest, rabbi or someone else associated with the facility will serve as your officiant. If your ceremony is held outside of a religious setting, you’ll need to choose an officiant. If you want a member of the clergy to perform the ceremony, contact a house of worship with which you’re familiar or check the Internet for suggestions.
If you’re not looking for a clergy person, consider a judge or district justice. County clerks or their appointed deputies also may perform wedding ceremonies, as can mayors of cities and boroughs. Private wedding officiants can be located on line.
Current Trend… A current trend is to have a friend or relative conduct the wedding ceremony. There are free and fee-based ministerial certifications online that enable almost anyone to become ordained and perform weddings and other ceremonies. However, once ordained, the person must register as an officiant with the county clerk and will need to present physical proof of his / her ordination status. A popular ordination site is the Universal Life Church Monastery at www.themonastery.org. You can get ordained for free on this site, but will need to buy proof of your ordination from the site’s store.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start looking for an officiant, as you may encounter conflicts. And, make an effort to get to know your officiant so that you can establish a relationship and have clear communications well before the ceremony.
YOUR WEDDING VOWS
Your wedding vows are central to your ceremony, and set the tone for your life together as a married couple. If you plan to write your own wedding vows, talk to the clergy person or other officiant who will conduct your ceremony. He or she may be able to offer suggestions and guidelines for what to include and how to write them. Also, be aware that some congregations, such as Catholic and Episcopal, may require you to recite traditional vows. Keep the following suggestions in mind if you’re planning to write your own vows.
READINGS AND TRADITIONS
Many couples include special passages of scripture, favorite poetry or song lyrics, or another special reading in their wedding ceremonies. Usually these are read by a member of the wedding party, family member, or a friend. You also might consider incorporating meaningful traditions into your ceremony, whether they are religious or secular, such as a unity candle that symbolizes the joining of two families.
OBTAINING YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE
In Pennsylvania, the Marriage License Bureau is part of the Clerk of the Orphan’s Court and Register of Wills. You can apply for the license up to 60 days before your wedding, but no later than 3 days before your wedding, as there is a three (business) day waiting period before the license is issued. You’ll need to know your Social Security number and present a photo ID when making your license application. Find out more about applying for a marriage license in Pennsylvania at http://usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_states/pennsylvannia/index.shtml.